Subject: LUSA: Jakarta talks 'positive and fruitful', says PM Alkatiri

also: East Timor PM has 'friendly' talks with Indonesian president

11-06-2003 13:37:00. Notícia nº SIR-5121553 Temas: new destaque1

East Timor: Jakarta talks 'positive and fruitful', says PM Alkatiri

Jakarta, June 11 (Lusa) - Top level government delegations from East Timor and Indonesia signed an agreement Wednesday to control border traffic between the two halves of Timor island.

The accord came after two hours of talks led by Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, who is on his first official visit to Timor's former occupying power.

Alkatiri told reporters the meeting had been "extraordinarily positive and fruitful", and that the Timorese delegation were "warmly received".

"There was always much frankness and openness from the Indonesians and a willingness to approach problems. There are pending matters, but we will continue to try and resolve them", Alkatiri said.

Dili had reaffirmed its wish to strengthen relations with Jakarta, both because of geographical proximity and bilateral cultural ties.

"We will transform the borders into a means for connection and not separation and convert the sea into an ocean of peace and stability in the region", he said, adding that both governments were aware they had a duty to bring the two nations even closer.

Megawati gave a similar upbeat account of the meeting, saying:

"We are committed creating bilateral relations and cooperation.

Political and social relations have to be supported so as to achieve friendly future relations".

The Indonesian leader said the two delegations had discussed pensions for ex-Indonesian workers, the question of private Indonesian assets in Timor and Jakarta`s war graves in its former province.

Wednesday`s border agreement will ease the movement of people and goods between Indonesian West Timor and the independent half of the island.

Alkatiri was on the first day of a three-day Jakarta visit and is accompanied by five cabinet ministers, including Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta and Finance Minister Madalena Boavida, along with 15 of Timor's top businessmen.

The Timorese leader said Monday that his trip was aimed to establish "good personal relations with Indonesia`s leaders".

In addition to his talks with Megawati, Alkatiri is due to meet, among others, the president of the Consultative Assembly, Amien Rais, and the speaker of parliament, Akbar Tanjung.

ASP/CJB -Lusa-


June 11, 2003 Wednesday

AFP: East Timor PM has 'friendly' talks with Indonesian president

JAKARTA, June 11

Visiting East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri held "friendly" talks with Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Wednesday during his first official visit to his country's former ruler.

"The results of our meeting are extremely positive," Alkatiri told a press briefing.

"I must not forget to mention the friendly manner in which I have been treated and welcomed in this country," he said, speaking through an interpreter.

"I'm convinced that with honesty and sincerity the two countries can together solve the problems that we are facing."

Pro-Jakarta militias, backed by the Indonesian military, waged a campaign of intimidation before East Timorese voted in August 1999 for independence, and a scorched-earth revenge campaign afterwards.

At least 1,000 people are estimated to have died and whole towns were burnt to the ground.

Indonesia has set up a human rights court to try military officers and other offenders, but international and local rights groups have called it a sham, with most suspects being acquitted.

Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, one of four ministers travelling with Alkatiri, denied media reports that the prime minister was pushing for an international tribunal to try offenders.

The government of Timor Leste wishes to work on the present relationship and look to the future. It is not on our agenda to continue to dwell on this issue," Ramos-Horta told reporters.

Asked if justice took a back seat in relations with Indonesia, he said: "For me, the greatest act of justice is that we are free."

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and relinquished it to UN stewardship after the bloodshed.

An estimated 100,000-200,000 East Timorese died in the early years of the occupation, many from starvation or disease, as a guerrilla war was waged against Jakarta.

East Timor, which has 800,000 people to Indonesia's 212 million, became independent in May 2002.

The two countries on Wednesday signed an agreement on border-crossings and regulated markets.

Megawati said the meeting was a basis for deeper understanding between Indonesia and East Timor. "We both are of the same view that being neighbors is a social and political reality," she said.

Megawati said that she and Alkatiri discussed the future of former Indonesian civil servants in East Timor and Indonesian assets in its former province as well as cross-border issues.


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